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Canadian Economic Observer
March 2004

Economic events in February


BC introduced a $30.2 billion balanced budget for fiscal year 2004-2005, with increased spending for health care, social programs and education.

The Alberta government revised up its forecast budget surplus to $33 billion for the current fiscal year as rising oil and gas royalties more than offset emergency spending due to mad-cow disease and forest fires.

Nova Scotia and PEI were declared states of emergency towards month end as a blizzard closed roads and caused power outages across the provinces. PEI took over the debts of the province’s largest fish processor, Polar Foods International, after it went into receivership at month-end.

TransCanada, a Canadian pipeline and energy company, reached a tentative deal to buy US Gas Transmission Northwest for $1.7 billion.

Workers at nickel-producer Falconbridge ratified a new contract on February 23 to end a three-week strike which shut four mines and a mill at Sudbury and cut in half its smelter capacity.

About 5,000 CN Rail workers went on strike on February 20 over wage increases. Ford temporarily closed three auto plants due to delayed parts shipments.


The Bank of England raised its key interest rate a quarter point to 4% on February 5, the second hike in two months.

The European Union imposed trade sanctions on US goods in an effort to pressure the US to repeal controversial corporate tax breaks. The 5% tariff on selected US goods takes effect in March and will rise by one percentage point each month.

OPEC agreed to reduce oil production by one million barrels a day beginning April 1, compared with the current 24.5 million barrels a day.

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